The 2021 NFL draft unveiled many glamorous draft selections. (dash) Players Quarterbacks like Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, stole the attention of the event. The draft featured potential future hall of fame players from the QB position, but it featured a vast number of high level players as a whole getting their name calle. These skill/offensive line/and QB prospects fled the green room to finally meet their pro teams. However, some of these glamorous profiles didn’t exactly meet “a match made in heaven”. In this piece, I’m going to outline which rookie players will face significant obstacles in their professional careers. Let’s begin.
Like many analysts are quick to point out, I believe that Penei Sewell is one of (strike) the safest players in the draft. Sewell possesses the right tools to be an All-Pro player. I just have a bad taste in my mouth with the fit as a Detroit Lion. I don’t like that head coach, Dan Campbell went with the offensive line amid a team that’s missing key “playmakers” on “both sides of the ball”. When rookie coaches opt to take a player that leans more towards being a safer fit/less impacted position, the once head coach usually isn’t around to see their draft pick make consecutive Pro Bowls. I don’t need a crystal ball to see that it looks like Sewell will be Joe Thomas 2.0.
It may have been a mistake for the first nine teams to pass on DeVonta Smith, but DeVonta Smith just went to the wrong team after wrongfully getting passed on. Smith won the Heisman and then proceeded to put on a show in the national championship game. The WR that hears negative remarks left and right for his body weight is carrying a massive chip on his shoulder. Yet, I believe Smith’s revenge tour won’t hit the ground running. Smith will demand lots of attention in a WR unit that’s disastrous by a large margin. His targets will be needed, but I don’t believe he will regularly carry top end performances or be very efficient with his current passing offense. Second year QB Jalen Hurts appears to be the strong favorite to start and he was far from impressive in his short rookie stint: 265 YPG, six passing touchdowns – four interceptions, and a rough completion percentage 52%.
It may be easy to cherry pick Rashod Bateman having a poor outlook in a Lamar Jackson led offense. Yet, that’s partially true. Dez Bryant and Willie Snead publicized their discomfort of the Ravens run first offense well on social media. I believe Rashod Bateman is an “upgrade at WR”, but It appears even a quality wideout will have a tough time being Top 10 or Top 15 at their position. Hollywood Brown is a high talent at WR, but he only registered 769 yards in 2020. The Ravens are a run heavy team around Lamar Jackson and that’s evident with much of their running backs/Lamar averaging around 5 YPC and the team posing one of the top rushing units in the league. Bateman will be in a WR group that also showcases Sammy Watkins, outside of Brown. Don’t let the first round sticker with Bateman and MVP award in Jackson’s backpocket let you believe a Joe Montana – Jerry Rice combination is on the horizon.
Justin Fields has a lot of talent and guts, which both showed well last season. Wether it was recording the same number of touchdown passes to incompletions, or coming back onto the field after taking a nasty hit and delivering a strike — Fields has it. The Bears were fortunate to watch the Ohio State QB slip, so they could strike and draft the gifted player. As for Fields, he is not so lucky. Fields is going to be playing on a Bears team that is holding one good skill player hostage (Allen Robinson). The offensive line also has a lot of work and chemistry to build — a team that was 14th in sacks allowed. The Bears offensive system has also had trouble getting off the ground with QBs in recent memories. Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles took turns seeing the bench, until Trubisky took back the job and had signs of little growth late in the season. All in all, the Bears offense lacks an above average supporting cast, well established play calling, and a dreadful offensive line to seal it off. Will the Bears be more competitive with Fields at QB? Perhaps, but he’s going to learn from mistakes and taking a lot of hits.